I made a short post last night about my climbing yesterday, but it was late after I got in. I had succeeded on the Geordie Warcry, so went like any rock climber round to my friends house to say hello, and play ring-a-ring-a-roses with there 2 and 3 year olds. I try not to think of anybody outside the house watching me embarass myself, as I try to mime the words as not being a three year old anymore I couldn’t remember them.
My phone beeped, and a message from the police came through, a short and rather cryptic, but when someone thinks its important to add a note that the casualty is conscious, I headed straight for Base. Phil was there, and had a vague location, so I headed up the Pass having grabbed some O2, radio and a first aid kit. Not that i could have done much (I am only trained in basic first aid, however given that I have now been first on scene at a couple of nasty falls, I am thinking about further training, if only I could afford the time off work), but at least in my mind the O2 would help if the situation was serious and often there are doctors about on scene, who could use our advance first aid kit.
By the time I got to the cromlech boulders, Pete from the team was behind me, and we abandoned our cars on the road. I think I left the keys in the ignition, phone on the dash board, as i rushed to get up to the scene and Rob joined us, great because his fell running legs move quicker than mine on the appraoch to the cromlech.
With the helicoptor on the way, and members of the team starting to flood up the hillside it wasn’t long before everything we needed was there. It really amazes me how well the team works in these situations. Everyone seems to fit into a roll that they can do, and help out with whoever needs it. Given the steep nature of the terrain, it takes a lot of concentration to manage the scene.I ended up tying on numerous people and stretches to a hasty but well made belay, before the winchman decided that it was too time critical to lower her to a better winch position.
I returned to the base, and had to make a series of notes and sign over various pieces of evidence to the local police, due to the serious nature of the accident the team has to act for the police, should the worse happen later. It is strange but quite satisfying piece together what you find at the scene and trying to form a hypothesis on what happened.
I looked back at the times of the SMS messages and I took a little over an hour from start to finish. The latest news I heard is that she is stable but critical, the list of injuries is extensive, and I am keeping my fingers, arms and legs crossed for her.
The reason my post was so short last night is that in the aftermath of such a rescue, you have what can only be described as an adrenalin come down. I simply had to go round a friend’s and relax. Watching rubbish on TV, and try not to think the worse, as the injuries were so severe that even in hospital, I personal thought it would be touch and go. I am still a little ‘numb’ today, slightly shellshocked I guess, but who won’t be, live goes on and today I was climbing with five lovely people at Plas Y Brenin on a Discover Climbing Course.
Spent today man flailing at Pentrwyn. Failing on contusion, a F7a on the cut away. Rodney Mullen, and string of pearls.
I seemed to be in the shade all dayn so we headed back to Bus Stop and put the draws in geordie war cry. I got most of the way from the ground first go, and then crushed it on my second go.
Thanks to Katie for making me go out, and getting pumped is alway good, and remeber in sport climbing failure is essential.
I will get some picutres from the day up soon.
Last night Pete Robin made the first ascent of the new link of Wild Understatement into Youthansia. A link he had been trying for a while, and had only been denied an ascent when we were there last week and the weekend by really hot weather. Yesterday even was a different story as the cool breeze had dried the crag reasonably well and the temps were spot on for climbing.
I even managed a near redpoint of Night Glue, but forgot how to do the upper wall, D’oh! Pete comment that the route was about F8b+, but was hard to grade given the ‘vertical’ nature of the climbing, which is extremely technical. Take Pete’s words with a pinch of salt though as whilst it may be rather vertical for 8b+ as you can see from the photo above it ain’t that vertical in places.
A great effort for Pete and the rest of us mere mortals were left to flonder around like a fish out of water. Fall Off you say, but I am a trad climber! How do I unlearn a lifetime of telling myself never to fall off? Ever!
Well I saw Dave Pickford’s ’15 Route to do before you Die’ feature in Climber Magazine. I felt that the routes went from the truly great to the totally ridiculous. In essence the routes were more like 15 of the greatest route Dave had a picture of. So I offer you my version of 15 routes to make you cry, whether it be gibbering on the lead or tears of the joy of life when you top out, but really it is 15 great routes I have climbed around the world or that I have pictures of.
Well I had another day teach lead climbing, this was an intro course so the main aim was to give my two clients the fundamental skills required to lead safely on there own. I concentrated on placing gear (Nuts, Hexes, Slings and Cams), extending them appropriately and constructing belays that meet the IDEAS principles.
The weekend course was a great chance for my to clients get loads of practice under my watchful. I managed to take a couple of snaps whilst they were busy placing gear and working out where the route went.
If you’d like some lead climbing coaching or an introduction to lead climbing then I offer course here
Well another day another dollar, so I am back at the Brenin teaching on an Intro to Leading weekend. We headed down to Tremadog today, and it was hotter than a hot thing on a hot day. It was like I was back in the US desert.
We climbed Christmas Curry with a Micah Finish and then I got my guys to climb Bobo on the sharp end. A great if somewhat hot day, although I think I have managed to rehydrate.
At the Crag I have gotten into the swing of Tremadog the place runs like clockwork, at 3pm the farmer comes out on their quad and starts his cows on the long walk back to the Dairy. It must be the same the world over, cattle everywhere heading to be drain of the white stuff. All because you want milk in your coffee in the morning. Its amazes me that it all works! There must be thousands if not millions of cows just so we can have our cornflakes.
Anyway the day was like any other until I got home and opened a letter from Bangor University, it announced that I am now the proud owner of a Masters Degree in Applied Sports Science.I can’t say how much a relief it is to finally after about three years of hard work and of course a great deal of waiting that the results are finally in. I now seem to be the most over qualified professional jumarer!
I arranged to go to LPT with Pete Robins today, and was blown away with the mans ability to crank through the hardest of moves through the steepest of terrains. I have climbed with him many times before but never seen him on hard sport since he decided to get good at it.
Whereas mortals might hope to tick a F7a or even like me pray for the day they climb F8a, this boy has been redpoint and onsighting routes in the upper sevens and 8’s for a while now, eventually redpointing Liquid Ambar F8c+.
He has always been a machine, but the way he was climbing today was incredible, narrowly missing out on a link up he is working. It was like his arms were hydraulically driven, rather than muscle that requires merely food to operate.
What the day did was get me re-psyche for Statement, and I had my first go on it today, and flailed about miserably in comparison, but then again I have lost much of my fitness through having to work, and only climbing slabs! I did manage to climb some moves that I could get near when I last tried the route some 8 years ago. By ‘not get near’, I mean basically unable to hold and unable to get to by hook, crook or aiding through. I have a few things I need to work on, my strength being one of them!
We had a great day, and despite the sea fret and humid conditions. I was happy with day 1.
My housemate has recently purchase this new ClickUp belay device by Climbing Technology. Marketed as an alternative to the Petzl Gri-Gri, i decided to take it for a test drive at LPT sports climbing today. What I found was a fairly simple and effect device for belaying on sports climbs.
The device operates by a fall making the carabiner its attached to move upwards, and unsurprisingly ‘click’ into place. When it has clicked it essentially locks the rope. What I found was that when someone pulls back on after they have been climbing the route, you can pop the carabiner back to the belay position, and carry on using it like normal.
I have to say I didn’t use it as a totally ‘auto-locking’ device, but even the Gri-gri isn’t really sold as such. What I like about the device compared to the gri-gri, was having never used it before I was expecting the potential stop-go-stop-go of a novice trying to use a Gri-gri and failing to co-ordinate the right tension on the handle and dead rope. With the ClickUp this simply can’t happen, twist it as much as you want, it still feeds the rope out nice and slowly.
My only disapointment was that it was near impossible to clip it to my harness with the lightweight HMS carabiner I was using. However with a full weight HMS this isn’t a problem. All in all on first impressions a nice little device, where you can easily pay rope out, take it in, and lower someone without the potential of dropping them that has occurred in the past with a Gri-gri, as you ‘thumb’ it.
(I only tried the device with a 10.5mm rope)
Any reader of this blog will have realised that I have an obsession with slate, and in particular the big and classic routes. Over the years I have climbed many of them all over the quarries and recently my partner in crime llion, has been robbing the limelight by getting ascents of Poetry Pink and Flashdance.
Unfortunately for me these evening hits have meant that I have had to hand the lead over to him. Knowing that he wanted to climb Waves of Inspiration, another of the Big 5’s on slate slabs, I choose to pull a card out of my sleave that he simply couldn’t turn down. That of Central Sadness, a mega two pitch E5, one pitch was famously described as a pitch for hero’s and another for the married man. Whilst I don’t claim to be a hero, a married man I am certainly not.
So on thursday night we headed up to California with this in mind. I had climbed it many years ago now. Probably over 10 years, with a Lakeland hero Chris Hope. Chris lead the route, and I belayed him. In the intervening years the route had changed in my mind, the run-out section on the first pitch had shrunk, and the top pitch had gotten easiest and shorter.
Heading back into this hidden hole we came face to face with the intimidating wall. A wall where we had shared many moments with many different people. None more so than the late and great Will Perrin. I was out today, and Pete remember climbing Central Sadness with will who refused to let Pete rest to remove one of his wires, Afraid to weight the rope Pete reverse to the belay, found a suitable rock to use as a nut key and carried on to the top.
I remember Dave Rudkin being taken by will, up the most atrocious terrain to climb the amazing chimney Fruit of the Gloom, and finally I remember soloing California Arete with will. Today he remember in many ways in this hole by his friends. A tree to celebrate his life is growing strong, a route named after his favourite musician Mr Tambourine Man, a technical F8a groove by Pete and of course in our memories.
The last time I got together with a team of Will’s nearest and dearest friends we set light to half the ledges by launching rockets at California Wall, trying to get one into the tunnel that makes up Pete’s ‘Snakes and Ladders’. He would have been proud of our minor anarchy, and we hope we woke his spirit with the noise.
Back to the route, and I had racked up, with what I had thought was an adequate amount of gear. So much so I struggled to get off the deck, but to be honest this was the crux of the route. Making my way up the steep crack. I had deposited most of the rack bya good niche at about 50ft before the broken wall above. Hauling up another few quickdraws, I paused to place more runner, including the first of my hand placed pegs.
Now I had thought that hand placed pegs might be good on this wall. Mainly because on Waves and other Slate routes there are many micro breaks too small for cams, but perfect for small blade pegs.
Moving up the broken hollow of the wall, I edge ever upwards knowing that a lonely spike would be my last runner. I would say of consequence but it isn’t that good, even weighted down with all my large wires, one wrong moves feels like you could put yourself in a terrifying situation.
What in my mind had been two moves above the spike to a lonely ledge and two bolt belay was somewhat optomistic. Above lay another 30ft of runout slab. Moving up my fitness pays dividends as the I leisurely make my way ever closer tothe sanctuary above, I see another micros break, and slot in a peg, a poor cam and get a skyhook over a good edge. All psychological gear, but if anything can help you cope with your inner demons than this was it.
Commiting to the final moves the feeling of success and triumph come flooding over me. This I why I climb, this is why I push myself and this is why I was there way above a decent runner, commited to the core.
Llion follows and takes over the rack, of which he had collected most of it, and heads up towards the crack that makes the meat and two veg of this route. He made it look easy, as he floated upwards throwing runner at the crack from teh comfort of the holds either side of it. He then gets to the best section of finger crack I have climbed in a long time and to quote Paul Williams, the crack is steep, the friction is poor but the gear amazing. As he power upwards it dawned on me this was the first time we had climbed a route that sustained over two pitches.
That for me is the great thing with this route, two pitches both E5 6a and both absolutely amazing. First climbed by Chris Dale and John Silverster, this amazing line tackled the tallest section of California Wall, and the only two bolts are very welcomely on the belay. I am not sure there is another route like this anywhere on Slate, and deserves to be more popular than it is.
My advice, get on Big 5’s, grow a pair and get on this bad boy. The only other route I can think of with two great E5 pitches would be Poetry Pink into the top traverse pitch of Released from Treatment.